UConn Moves To 97.9 ESPN After 26 Years At WTIC Hartford

97.9 ESPN WUCS Hartford University of ConnecticutThe University of Connecticut is leaving Entercom News/Talk 1080 WTIC Hartford after 26 years as IMG has signed a ten year deal with iHeartMedia Sports “97.9 ESPN” WUCS Windsor Locks to take over as its rights holders for football, mens hockey, and mens and womens basketball starting in with the Fall 2018 school year.

WUCS will also carry select Olympic sports from the university and ancillary programming including the UConn Women’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Geno Auriemma, the UConn Men’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Kevin Ollie, UConn Football Coach’s Radio Show with Randy Edsall, and the UConn Hockey Coach’s Radio Show with Michael Cavanaugh.

IMG today announced a transformative 10-year, multimillion-dollar partnership with iHeartMedia and 97.9 ESPN, Hartford’s Sport Station, to serve as the Home of the UConn Huskies.

97.9 ESPN will become the new home for the UConn-IMG Radio Network beginning in the 2018-19 academic year. Following the conclusion of the current UConn athletic seasons, it will serve as the exclusive terrestrial radio home for UConn Athletics airing regular season and post-season play-by-play for football, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s hockey. Additionally, iHeartMedia plans to broadcast select UConn Olympic sports contests.

“Our new relationship with iHeartMedia and 97.9 ESPN provides UConn Athletics with a powerful reach and the prospect of building an extensive affiliate network throughout the state and the Northeast,” director of athletics David Benedict said. “Our new partnership with a dedicated sports platform hosted by the most powerful sports and media company in the country, will offer fans and listeners more opportunities to interact with our teams and coaches.”

The relationship between the UConn-IMG Radio Network and 97.9 ESPN will also include pre- and post-game shows as well as the UConn Women’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Geno Auriemma, the UConn Men’s Basketball Coach’s Radio Show with Kevin Ollie, UConn Football Coach’s Radio Show with Randy Edsall, and the UConn Hockey Coach’s Radio Show with Michael Cavanaugh.

“This partnership joins three iconic brands,” said Steve Honeycomb, Region President for iHeartMedia. “Having UConn sports on iHeartMedia’s 97.9 ESPN has been our long-term goal. This is the perfect partnership and offers even more entertaining programming for UConn Nation.”

In the event of conflicting game schedules, iHeartMedia will broadcast UConn Athletics events on an affiliate station. IMG also provides fans a variety of ways to follow UConn Athletics audio broadcasts including on their mobile device with the Tunein App and on satellite radio via partnerships with Sirius/XM radio.

iHeartMedia the leading media outlet in the Hartford market with multiple platforms, including its broadcast stations; live events; data; and its digital businesses and platforms, including mobile, social and its own iHeartRadio, the free all-in-one digital music, podcasting and live streaming radio service – with more than 1.7 billion app downloads and 110 million registered users.

“We couldn’t be happier about teaming up with the University of Connecticut Athletics and finally having UConn sports on our station,” said Ben Darnell, Program Director for 97.9 ESPN.

No decisions have been made related to on-air talent for UConn Athletics broadcasts on iHeartMedia Hartford.

IMG is the exclusive multimedia rights holder for UConn Athletics.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

5 Comments


  1. Reportedly, the reason WUCS-97.9 selected those call letters was that iHeart hoped that it would someday be the flagship station for U/Conn sports (which it will be starting with the 2018/19 collegiate sports year) since they spell “U Conn Sports”.

    With the move, rightsholder IMG will need to retain affiliates in Willimantic, New Haven, and Fairfield County. I would think they’ll also have to get a new affiliate in New London/Groton since I don’t think the network has one in that area now (currently, WTIC-1080 is the defacto Southeast Connecticut affiliate).

    I would expect that station to use that branding.

    As for WTIC-1080, don’t be surprised if the station picks up Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics games beginning in their respective 2018/19 seasons. ‘TIC would probably be able to carry almost all the home games of both teams and about 30 away games of each team.

    There would be a problem come the Spring of 2019 with Bruins/Celtics playoff games conflicting with early-season Boston Red Sox games, but early-season baseball can be put on WTIC-FM-96.5 with the big-signal AM carrying Bruins and/or Celtics playoff games.


    • Whatever iHeartMedia does in choosing a callsign is nobody’s business but theirs.
      As to what AM 1080 will do, WTIC is more likely to plug in a syndicated Right-Wing talk show. The Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics do not have radio networks.


      • WTIC airs Clark Howard 7PM-10PM on the weeknights they don’t cary play-by-play, so they won’t be plugging in anything.


      • It’s a matter of public record, so how that isn’t anyone’s business.. charles, your constant attacks baffle me.


  2. Prior to going to WTIC in 1993, UCONN games were on the Connecticut Radio Network, with WPOP and several stations in the state. CRN used WTNH-8’s SAP channel, so CRN affiliates could connect to the SAP channel for high quality audio of the games, instead of using phone lines. I would imagine IMG and iHeart will add affiliates to fill the void left by a 50K flame thrower.

    Sports columnist Jeff Jacobs of the Hearst newspapers in Connecticut says iHeart and IMG should keep Joe D’Ambrosio as a PBP announcer.
    https://www.nhregister.com/sports/jeffjacobs/article/Jeff-Jacobs-It-s-an-easy-call-Keep-12620801.php

    I’m not sure Celtics and Bruins on WTIC or another CT station would work. Too many loyalties to NYC teams for those sports.

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